- 400g strong white four
- 480g warm water
- 130g strong whole grain flour (more texture the better)
- 16g good sea salt (I use Cornish)
- 130g starter
- 100g fermented pearl barley (made by leaving barley water with a spoonful of starter for 2 weeks covered on your windowsill
Now I’m no baker, I’m not an expert and to be honest i don’t consider myself very good at bread making at all….but I have found myself becoming more and more obsessed with the whole process of sourdough.
At first it was frustrating more than gratifying, you follow the recipe and it inevitably comes out fairly rubbish! What the books don’t tell you is how important lots a small aspects of the process are. The water content will be different with each batch and will definitely be different with a different flour used (because they will be milled at slightly different grades I have since realized) and then there is the folding process….
So when you make a regular loaf of bread you make a dough and you must knead it into its smooth silky looking texture which will lead (hopefully) to a beautiful loaf at the end.. A sourDOUGH is not like my definition of a dough at all, and until I realized that I was trying to make it into my idea of a dough.
I’m gonna add my first video to this recipe because I don’t think words really explain whats happening with each fold you make. The dough starts almost as a liquid and then becomes the more structured thing you need at the end to form buns/loaf.
start this in the AM…..
So to begin you add the flours, starter and most of the water and mix this into a pretty messy looking mixture. Now add the salt and fermented pearl barley, mix it again and add the rest of the water. Should still look like a mess and you probably thinking its gone wrong but don’t panic!
Now leave it alone for half an hour so let the flour start to mix into the liquid then give it another mix a bit faster which will start the gluten working which is very important and you need to see that elasticity beginning.
Cover the bowl in clingfilm and leave it alone for about an hour but doesn’t need to be too well timed. you will keep doing the next process all day every hour or so roughly 5 times until the sun goes down…. yeah that’s right this is a 2 day process and if you want you can make it an even longer process. This to me is where you really start to realize the magic of sourdough, I’m giving you my recipe which is a fairly simple (I think) way to make a basic sourdough but it’s not very sour, I don’t like very sour sourdough. If you love the sourness then you can experiment with it! The longer you leave it to ferment the stronger the sourness will be so in this recipe I leave it out all day until the evening then it will go into the fridge all night. So you could leave it out for two days, you could leave it in the fridge for 2 days, 3 days maybe even more. You could also adapt the amount of starter that goes into the mix as this will increase the sourness…. so as you can see it starts to be much more than just water, flour and salt
So after your hour or so is up generously flour the work top and pour out your dough and with your hands, spatula or ideally a dough scraper pull the edges up and fold them over into the middle going around pulling the outsides in working quickly and then get it back into the bowl. not this wont be pretty, you will get messy but don’t worry! Just do your best, scrape off any remaining bits stuck on your work top and get them in the bowl with a dusting of flour over the top and cling film it again and lave it in a warm place. This first folding is the least pretty part in my experience and if my dough is really wet then i sometimes do it inside the bowl.
When you repeat this every hour or so approximately 5 times is good and you will see how the dough evolves and starts to feel different. It becomes much easier as it becomes a little dryer. Your folding will need to start to have more purpose which is another thing I didn’t take enough care over initially. I hope the video will show you how to stat folding it over its self and plating it which creates its structure and without this folding it simply wont be able to support itself.
The next morning get you oven on full. 250’c and give it half an hour to get hot. While it warms up take your dough out the fridge and cut it carefully into 3 they will weigh around 140g but I do it by eye because I like the rough look. Take each piece of dough and gently repeat the folding process being careful to retain the air bubble that have been created over night in the fridge, After plating them fold the ends over and they kind of resemble pillows I think, if you have got good dough you should see some air bubbles at this stage. You need to work quickly and repeat this with each dough ball to make 3 small loafs, place the onto a lightly floured baking tray and put them into your hot oven and shut the door. Now this part is probably unconventional but hey…! You need to throw about half a cup of water into the bottom of your oven and close the door quick! Bread needs moisture and the injection of steam makes the bread rise which is needed at the start of the process. Leave the bread cooking for roughly 20 mins then reduce the oven to 200 degrees and continue cooking for around 10-15 minutes. your bread is ready when its well colored recipies a few almost burnt bits are fine and to be expected, they will feel quite light and sound hollow if you tap them. If any of these things are not present it probably needs more time to cook. I must stress that this is how I cook my bread in my oven and this can only be used as a guide because I’ve never used your oven!
Take your bread out of the oven and leave it too cool (and in fact finish cooking) on a cooling rack for at least 20 mins.